The beautiful and extensive Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens began life as the Franklin County Fairgrounds in 1852, becoming the Ohio State Fairgrounds in 1874. As development moved eastward from downtown Columbus, East Broad Street remained a high quality residential address, the fairgrounds were then subsequently moved to north Columbus. In its place was a plan to create a 88 acre conservatory which was later modeled after the 1893 Chicago Exposition aspart of the City Beautiful Movement of that era. Today, the extensive Conservatory and the community gardens are a regional treasure for all to enjoy.
Given to the City of Bexley in 1941, the 34-acre Jeffrey estate is literally an arboretum unto itself. Composed of deciduous woodland and four meadows, the general plan envisioned by Robert H. Jeffrey was to create a country setting for an English style-estate. In the British tradition, the estate includes extensive park-like grounds and walking paths winding through twenty acres of woodland, comprising Sycamores and Cottonwood trees in the floodplain, White Pine and Blue Spruce trees in the conifer grove, and Sugar Maples and Oaks edging the meadows. Many of the early trees were imported from England, Scotland and other European countries, often by Mr. Jeffrey, personally, as he stored seedlings in his pockets from trips abroad. Home to a variety of owls, foxes, deer and Cooper’s Hawks, the Jeffrey Woods continues to delight and inspire residents and visitors alike. Click on the photos below to scroll through Jeffrey Mansion and Woods.
Although technically in Columbus, just outside the City of Bexley’s Arboretum, Wolfe Park is a beautiful 48-acre open space enjoyed by all. In the 1920’s, Robert F. Wolfe conveyed the property to the city of Columbus for a park for one dollar, for “good will towards the people of Columbus”. The Alum Creek pedestrian bridge was built in 1922 and the current shelter house in 1935.
Considered an “art gallery of plants”, the 5-acre private gardens contain a world- class collection of plant material. Featuring a series of outdoor rooms, the gardens and terraces provide a beautiful transition over the sixty feet height difference between Parkview Avenue and Alum Creek below. The terraced plates contain an oval meadow, a 100 ‘ diameter maize created by over 200 arborvitae trees, and a lower meadow all interconnected by a gentle curving path. Special features include a Japanese Garden, three horticultural knot gardens, 16th century French urns and two twin tree houses amidst 3500 hosta plants. The gardens periodically have been open to the public during the annual Bexley House and Garden Tour, the first weekend in June. Click on the pictures below to view more photos of The Schottenstein Gardens.
On an unremarkable plot of farm ground, 29 delightfully unique residences were developed unlike any other homes within the City of Bexley. Sessions Village, modeled after a small French village, was designed by Robert Roy Reeves on the Francis Sessions’ property across from Wolfe Park. With construction beginning in 1928, 13 original homes were designed as one interlocking composition, with each home containing first floor rooms that faced formal garden spaces, walled courtyards or fountains, accented by special ironwork and replete with “found” features including sculpture and unique brick and stone work. In 1935, building stopped for 10 years, and in 1937, Reeves, the original architect died and his son, Roy Reeves, Jr. completed the plans for three more homes. Sessions Village trustees approved architects designed the last 16 homes within the village.
The Bexley Community Garden was started in 2009 and is under the jurisdiction of Bexley Parks and Recreation. Four Master Gardeners currently manage the BCG. Since Bexley is an accredited arboretum with over 14,000 trees, sunny space for gardening can be rare for homeowners.
The Bexley Community Garden is 20,000 square feet of sunny space; perfect for gardening. It includes 84 plots that currently rent for $30.00 per calendar year. The City has added 4 water pumps, which allow each plot to have access to water via hoses. Tools are available onsite. There is also a community of helpfulness and knowledge.
In addition to the individual plots there are several other specialty plots and gardens. The herb garden was the first specialty plot. Over 16 herbs are grown for the gardeners to share and use as they wish. The giving garden grows food and then donates it to a local food pantry. In 2015, over 500 pounds of fresh produce was donated.
The pollinator garden is planted with annuals and perennials. It blooms throughout the growing season and provides food for bees. We also have and maintain bees to help with the current bee crisis and enrich the environment.
There is also a butterfly garden which has been officially accredited as a Monarch way station. It feeds and provides a nursery for monarch butterflies. One of the highlights is the milkweed which will attract dozens of monarchs in August.
The garden is also pleased to host an experimental site overseen by The Ohio State University. Current research on the squash vine borer is chemical free and adds to the educational value of the garden.
Every year educational programs are held in the gardens for new gardeners and experienced gardeners interested in increasing their gardening skills and knowledge. Opportunities also abound for Master Gardeners and other groups seeking service hours during clean up days. Current plans are underway to expand the garden to another location in North Bexley and offer raised beds, which enable those that have difficulty bending and kneeling to garden more easily.